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Thursday, May 03, 2018

Cap City Half Marathon 2018

I'm joining Hoho Runs and Taking the Long Way Home's Weekly Wrap linkup to recap my latest race. Maybe I'll bring back weekly training recaps if I can make them interesting. But first, the race....

I bought some race photos!
The Cap City Half Marathon took place Saturday, April 28 at 8:00am in Columbus, Ohio.

I did everything wrong going into this race. 
It's a good thing I've run a dozen half marathons because had only one of those things gone wrong a few years ago I would have been toast. Here are just a few things that were less than ideal leading up to Saturday:
  1. Trained for 6 weeks.
  2. Traveled over 3 time zones in a week which = a messed up sleep schedule
  3. Drank three pints of [low ABV] beer, which I tried to make up for by chugging a ton of water when I got back to my hotel. 
  4. I didn't get to bed at 10pm and ended up waking up once an hour from 11pm to 4am. 
  5. Forgot to pack my anti-chaffing stick. Spoiler: My thighs chaffed. 
  6. My alarm didn't wake me up.
  7. Didn't take one last bathroom break and had to pee so badly in the corral. 
  8. Forgot to pack my handheld water bottle, so I purchased a bottle of Aquafina at the hotel and carried it the entire race. 
Pre Race
Thank goodness I set this out the night before!
As mentioned above, my 6am alarm went off, but it was almost silent (maybe my ringer was turned down?) so I slept through it. I'm so lucky I woke up at 6:27, looked at the hotel clock and immediately sprang out of bed. I'm also lucky I set out my stuff the night before and that my hotel was less than a half mile from the start. 

I got dressed, tried to eat my entire bagel (didn't work) and drink more water + Nuun to cancel out the beer from the night before. I felt kind of gross, but not as bad as I did around 11pm the night before. (P.S. I drank so much because I went out with friends and they treated me to drinks. I will drink one beer the night before a race, but this was crazy. I was probably nervous.) 

There was a Oiselle meetup at 7:15, so I headed to the park. It was not only nice to meet new people and see old friends, but it was a great excuse to get to the park early, check my gear, and get race ready. We all took a bathroom break, then a small group of us walked to the corrals. Two other ladies were planning to run between 1:55 and 2:00 so I lined up with them.

Ohio team + West Virginia + me

At this point I had no idea how the day would go. I freaked out the night before in blog form because I knew I'd consider this a waste if I didn't take advantage of the nice weather (~50Âș and sunny) and my current fitness. But here I was, mildly dehydrated, feeling icky, and tired from lack of sleep. 

A. Perfect day: stick with the 1:55 pacers and PR. (8:47/mi pace)
B. OK day: Sub-2:00 finish. (9:09/mi pace)
C. Disaster: Go back to the 2:20 pacers (2 friends) and try to enjoy the misery. (10:40/mi pace)

(Not my corral.)
The Race
A few minutes before the corrals let out (one at a time. I was in C.) I had to go to the bathroom so badly. There weren't any porta potties next to the corrals and I didn't want to leave and get stuck in a slower group. My plan was to stop at the first aid station for a break. I've never done that, so I was hoping I could channel my inner Shalene at Boston and take 13 seconds.

When corral C let out my two Oiselle teammates took off ahead and I lost the 1:55 pacers almost immediately. Whoops. I decided to run by feel and concentrate on getting to a porta potty. 

New course (click to enlarge)
The course was new this year, so we did the German Village bit first. I'm glad. It was my meltdown point in 2014 and 2015. This time I looked around at new businesses, read every spectator sign, and just kept my pace consistent. I tried to pick up the pace on downhills, but other than that I didn't look at my watch until the first mile dinged. I was going a little slow. Even slower than a sub 2:00. Oh well. At this point I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to run the whole thing. Thinking about even 6 more miles was a stretch. 

I passed the aid station and the bathrooms had a big ol' line. I convinced myself to keep trucking. An Instagram friend would be at 2.75 so I tried to make that my next milestone. Once again, I wondered if I'd finish this race without walking. Knowing he was up there must have carried me, because mile 3 was my fastest yet. 
Miles 1-3: 9:13, 8:54, 8:38

I was finally hitting a groove and I'm not sure why I never remember it takes me 2-3 miles to get comfortable. Maybe I should do a warm up run? I'm not sure how that would affect the later miles... Anyway, we reentered downtown and there were a ton of spectators. Some of them had giant foam hands so I high-fived as many as I could. I was feeling decent by this point. Still could have gone for a bathroom break, but it was less of an issue. Mile 5 exited downtown and lead to a park. There was a weird out and back of .1 total that I didn't love, but I'm sure it was to add distance. There was also a nice spectator offering champagne. Nice offer, but no thanks. 

Just before mile 6 the quarter marathoners turned off and the halfers headed north on Neil Ave, a street lined with Victorian homes. I used to drive Neil Ave a lot when I lived in Columbus so it was nice to see it again, but tough because I knew how far a mile felt on the street. In fact, that's the hard part about any race in Columbus for me. I know how far apart the milestones are, unlike running in a new city where I just go with the flow. 

Mile 6 was a steady climb and I decided to take my gel. My stomach was still a little sensitive from the night before, but as I wasn't able to finish my bagel in the morning I was starting to get hungry. 
Miles 4-6: 8:43, 8:30, 8:40

I want to be honest: I was pretty shocked by these paces. I was kind of tired, but not like I've been by mile 6 in most half marathons. I haven't raced since last July, so maybe my memory is a bit foggy, but I felt good. In fact, I felt better at mile 6 than I did at mile 1. And instead of my normal, "the faster you run, the faster your done" I started thinking, "you can do it." That's way more positive than I'm used to! 

Mile 7 took us through the Ohio State campus and past another water stop. I caught up to the Oiselle teammates I started with and one said, "you must be feeling better!" I said something–who knows what–but we didn't talk again. They pulled away and I was a little bummed I couldn't keep up considering I'd caught them. We wound our way through campus a bit more and I was tired, but tried to keep them in my sights. There was another consistent uphill, but it wasn't too bad. 

In mile 9 we turned onto Lane Ave, which is another road I've run many times. Normally I'm going in the opposite direction, so it was pretty awesome to see it was a steady downhill to the river. I took full advantage and picked up my pace. I passed my Oiselle teammates and finally found the 1:55 pacers. I overtook them as they slowed for another aid station.  

Holy crap. I passed the 1:55 pacers and felt good. 5 miles to go. 

I began calculating my finish time and tried to keep up my energy. The next mile was the quietest. It's hard to get spectators on this stretch of Olentangy River Road so I tried to think about my next milestone: running past my old work building. I imagined the weird landlord would be outside and I'd say hi (it's happened before). He wasn't there, so I shifted my focus to the next milestone: hitting mile 10 in 1:28 for a 1:55 finish. 

I did it in 1:26:43. Not blowing it out of the water, but doing way better than I expected, plus the pacers hadn't caught up and passed me. This is a pretty boring part of the race, so I read all of the signs I could and smiled each time someone yelled my name.
Miles 7-11: 8:32, 8:39, 8:26, 8:28, 8:32

After mile 11 it started to get hard. I kind of wanted to walk during 10 and 11, but now I really wanted to. I don't think my elevation is completely accurate because we had to run over a highway and my Garmin data doesn't include it as a hill. I sure felt like I was running up a giant hill. I tried to think back to Seattle the week before. I'd made it through those hills, so I could do this one, right? I didn't stop even when I saw other folks walking. I wanted to, but I knew my slowest run would be faster than walking. 

After that hill we worked our way back downtown. No matter which direction you come from, downtown is uphill. There were back-to-back 30 foot hills in mile 13 and they felt like 100 feet. This part of the course rejoined the quarter marathoners, but they were on the other side of the cones, so I didn't have to deal with the "traffic." I tried to chug along. There were more and more spectators as we got closer to the finish. It was so hard, but I had to keep running if I wanted a PR. 

Coming in to the finish on High Street.
We made the final turn onto High Street and a few things happened: we still had at least .4 to go, I couldn't see the finish line arch because of the hill ahead, and it was a wind tunnel. It was so windy one of my legs whipped into the other. I literally had to put my head down and just keep pushing. Finally I could see the finish line, but I had a ways to go. I knew it would be a 13.2 course, so I made a point of looking at my watch to see my time at 13.1. A PR! 

I kept trucking, but my last .2 was almost my slowest pace of the race. Not sure if I was phoning it in, blowing away, or checking myself out on the giant video screen, but I sure didn't sprint to the finish. 
Miles 12-13.2: 8:40, 8:40, 8:51 (.2)

Post Race
I crossed the line, looked at my new PR (wahoo) and felt great. It was so unexpected after a night and morning of disasters, but I know I'm in better overall shape these days and–let's be real– training at 5,000ft and racing at 750ft has its advantages!    

Me and Jennie
I was a little sad not having Alex there (back in Montana). He was sleeping in so I didn't talk to him for another hour. I grabbed my snacks, tossed my empty hotel Aquafina (I carried it the whole way!), and headed over to the VIP tent to hang out with my sister in law, Jennie. She let me gush about my race, which I very much appreciated.

Final Stats and Thoughts 
This was an almost 5 minute PR. My previous PR was set two years ago (though I came close to it last July). I've been sidelined with runner's knee for almost 7 months and started taking a strength class, plus my recent 10k PR unlocked my potential. It helps so much when you can look back at a race that went really well when things get tough. I hope I can use this half as motivation when times get tough at my next race. 

Final Time: 1:54:17 (1:53:27 at 13.1!!!!)
Overall: 1,520 / 6,369 (24%)
Gender: 470 / 3,474 (13.5%) 

Up Next: Achieving sub-2 was a big deal for me in 2016. After that, I really didn't consider trying to break anything more than 1:57 (all miles under 9:00 pace). I think I can run even faster than 1:53/54. Maybe not a sub 1:50 yet, but it's possible someday. If you would have told my 12 minute mile self this a few years ago I would have thought you were crazy. 


  1. Congrats!! And glad your knee is finally feeling better.

  2. Congrats! Isn't it great to have no expectations? Experience always pays off. What a great way to get a PR!!

  3. Wow! Congrats on a five minute PR! I think having everything sort of go ”wrong” makes for a great race. It’s takes the pressure off — you just think...whatever. Training at a higher altitude probably doesn’t hurt either. You crushed it! Thanks for linking!


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